I picked up this book recently from a book galley site and this is my new favorite addiction (the book galley sites, not this particular book- wait, maybe??) In exchange for a fair review, they sent this to me for free. When I read they byline “From former MTV VJ Dave Holmes, the hilarious memoir of a perpetual outsider fumbling towards self-acceptance, with the music of the ’80s, ’90s, and today as his soundtrack”…how could I NOT request it?! Reading the byline itself, I can hear Casey Kasem in my head! Be still, nostalgic heart!
So it shows up at my house and I immediately begin reading. This is important, because there are well over 400 books in our house that would like to have my hands on them. This one felt NOW. Like, right now. Even the book jacket has a creamy (can paper be creamy?) feel to it.
The book jacket illustration fits the title perfectly. White. Stark. Lonely, with a solo, faceless dude at a party, chilling alone, listening to his Sony Walkman CD Player. Delish.
Throw in the fact that the Chapter Titles are all song titles, and I’m swooning. And the title selections are not contrived. Take for example, Chapter 17, Any Little Town. He didn’t just pick that title because the word ‘town’ was in it to explain his experience living in NYC during 9/11. The lyrics augment what he wrote in this particular chapter- and it happens in most of the other chapters as well.
I’ll be honest, for all the MTV I watched, I don’t remember Dave Holmes, which now makes me sad. And nostalgic. When will MTV go retro for the children of the 80’s and play all our old favorites?! Like A Prayer! Control! Thriller! A-ha! Tool! Warrant! Whitesnake! Let Dave be the veejay (again) and take us back to that time! His recollections of growing up in the Midwest are spot on to some of my own. His mother’s accent is priceless.
I abhor the coming-of-age trope- but it (unfortunately) fits this book. This is Dave’s story of realizing very young that he was different (I prefer unique) and having trouble finding another soul like his through high school, college and adult/career-hood. And that is what is fantastic about his story. The funny tales, the horrifying MTV bits, the Friends-like-life in NYC all direct him (and the reader) to that weird, hippie, hallucinogenic last chapter where the answer to life lies.
All along the way there is music. The Introduction, relating the bee girl from Blind Melon’s video to his own search to feel included, had me hooked. There are music lyrics adeptly sprinkled in, and if you aren’t a bottomless pit of useless music lyric knowledge (like me, like Dave), you probably won’t notice them. They are used not so much to drive home a point, as to be inside Dave’s head, where I’m sure, every minute of every day, music lyrics swim around until the moment when they are needed, and then out they come. Just ask my husband…me and music lyrics spouted to mundane situations is a thing I do. He doesn’t get them, but Dave would. So can we have a party of two!?
If you grew up in front of the boob tube and with American Top 40 on the ghettoblaster every Sunday, and remember Small Wonder, TRL, Fact of Life, 98 Degrees, Chad Allen (swoon! Chad Allen!), The Indigo Girls, The Cosby Show, The Breakfast Club (and all other John Hughes movies) and Doug Savant, then you will love all the pop culture references Dave tosses up. Even better is his weaving of 80s and 90s pop culture with more current lingo, pop culture and social media- like vocal fry (Dufffrunnnnt!), 80s on 8, GIFs on HipChat, Applebee’s Happy Hours, Temptation Island, and Rock Star: INXS (hello, I have TWO of the contestants’ songs on my iPod!).
To top it all off, Dave is clearly humble. Yes, there are occasional name drops, but not in a vulgar look-who-I-got-to-meet way, but in a how-the-hell-did-I-get-here way. The chapters about his time at MTV, the shows he worked on (thanks for finishing THAT chapter with a picture of Nick Lachey!) and the douchier celebs he met were like icing on a sweet, musical, trash TV cupcake.
A few favorite lines:
“I hunted high and low for my place in this world. I changed myself around every which way to make myself normal. I tried to be each of the five archetypes from The Breakfast Club, all four of the Facts of Life girls, every one of the emotions inside Herman’s Head. I tore it up, you guys.”
“(Affer it up t’Are Lard, Mom would whisper to us; you’re evidently also supposed to know what that means.)”
“Like Markie Post in a Lifetime Original Move, I kept my abuse to myself.”
“You won’t age into someone else’s prized demographic. (Actually, you will: Fox New’s. Best not to think about it.)”
“My blocked chi was going to have to get fixed. Twenty CCs of bullshit juice, stat.”
Gems. All gems. The best one is in the last chapter, but I’ll let you find it. 😉
Super fast read. Perfect for the beach, for avoiding work, or for that 3.5 hour flight to Indianapolis to forget why you are flying to Indiana. (No seriously, Dave, can we have a party of two!? We’d have so much fun listening to satellite radio, trivia-ing each other on all things music and trying to out karaoke each other! Email me! 😉 )